A Time for Grief and Grieving
At this moment, as I write this article, Hurricane Irma is raging up through Florida and Houston is cleaning up after Harvey. Many are grieving the loss of loved ones and thousands are grieving the loss of their homes and possessions. It is, indeed, a time for grief and grieving.
A time for grief and grieving
Death is in the news on a daily basis. We hear about murders, drunk drivers, accidents of all kinds, deaths in the war in the Middle East, deaths from illnesses and natural deaths of those who are well known.
When we hear the report, perhaps say a quick prayer, and go on about our business. Often don’t know the deceased or their family and seldom give thought to the pain represented by those few seconds of news. We say about houses and possessions, “It’s just stuff and can be replaced.” But when it’s your “stuff” it’s a different story. We grieve those things that had special meaning to us.
The long life of grief
The grieving continues long after the story is forgotten and the funeral is a part of the distant past. Regardless of our religious or spiritual beliefs in life after life, there is grief over the loss of someone we love dearly.
Most of us are not prepared to deal with grief or help those who are grieving. Many mean well but their comments of time will heal your wounds; well it’s been six months you should be over it by now. He’s in a better place, etc. only compound the pain.
While death is something that happens to each of us, discussing it is something we avoid. It makes us uncomfortable. We don’t want to think about it. It’s the old “out of sight, out of mind” approach. If we ignore it, it will go away. But it won’t.
It won’t go away
Some years ago my fiance died from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). It was devastating. I thought I was “doing fine.” I declined the group sessions offered to me by Hospice because I didn’t think I needed them. After all, I am a minister as well as a nurse and believed I could “handle it.” I officiated at his memorial service and didn’t cry. I comforted his friends. I consoled his daughters. Left with the enormous bills associated with such an illness, I had to sell my house and downscale my lifestyle. I managed that. Looking back, I know that I was too numb to feel much or react adequately.
Stoicism does not work
Looking back, I know that I was too numb to feel much or react appropriately. Fortunately, I didn’t make any horrible mistakes with the decisions I was forced to make before I was ready. It seems that I was on automatic pilot for some years although I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I didn’t know that I needed help. My family and friends were there for me, although they didn’t know how deep the grief was and how long it lasted.
Places to get help
I think that now I wouldn’t try to be so stoic and do it by myself. There are many great resources in our communities and on the Internet. Two that readily come to mind are The Compassionate Friends for those who have lost a child and Open to Hope. There is excellent information on each website. The Compassionate Friends has chapters in every state and are known for their ability to understand and give comfort. Hospice also has grief groups as do many churches. If groups are not for you, Open to Hope has articles, archives of their TV and radio shows, and a loving readership who offer support and caring to each other. It is important that you don’t walk the grief path alone. And there are now many books that will help you with your own grief or help you console another.
Part of self-improvement is to recognize when you need help and get it. And it also includes reaching out to help others. If you don’t know what to do or say, simply ask, “What can I do? How can I help?” Sometimes just listening or sitting in silence is what is needed most. And remember that grieving takes time so be there for your bereaved relative or friend as long as they need you. Sometimes the pain comes back to bite periodically for years to come.
And you may want to explore your own ideas and beliefs about death and dying and what happens when you die.